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Canada falls but earns top seed

Canada's third-period comeback against the Unified Team didn't win the game. It earned something more valuable _ the top seed from its Olympic hockey group.

The former Soviet Union, which needed to win by three goals to overtake the Canadians, pulled out a 5-4 victory Sunday night in one of the most intense games of the tournament.

In its opening medal-round game Tuesday, Canada will play the easiest competition from the other group, probably Germany or Italy. Canada took the top spot on goal differential.

Sean Burke's brilliant goaltending _ turning aside 47 shots _ kept the Canadians close enough to reach their objective, despite Igor Kravtchouk's winning goal with 7:16 left.

"Our goal was to end up first in the pool," Hannan said. "We didn't want to lose, but we met our goal."

Americans finish 7th

LA PLAGNE, France _ Americans Brian Shimer and Herschel Walker had one strong run, but it wasn't enough as they finished a disappointing seventh in the bobsled competition.

A Swiss sled with Gustav Weder and Donat Acklin aboard won the gold medal. Germany's top two sleds took the silver and the bronze.

The top Americans finished 0.69 seconds behind the Swiss.

"We got better as we went along," said Walker, whose team was ninth heading into Sunday's last two runs, "but there's no doubt, more (practice) time would have helped."

"A little experience can carry you a long way," said Shimer, of Naples. "We're just not the best we could be."

Finn flies to gold again

COURCHEVEL, France _ Sixteen-year-old Toni Nieminen of Finland flew to his second gold medal and into the record books again when he won the 120-meter hill event.

After becoming the youngest male winner at a Winter Games by clinching gold for Finland in the team jumping event Friday, the baby-faced jumper was king of the hill for the second time in 48 hours and became the youngest man to win an individual gold at a Winter Games. Nieminen's gravity-defying leaps of 400 feet, 3 inches and 403-6, executed in the splayed-ski V-style that has revolutionized the sport, were the two longest of the day. Another teen-ager, 17-year-old Martin Hoellwarth, took second place.

Another Alpine surprise

VAL D'ISERE, France _ Norway's Kjetil Andre Aamodt continued the surprise finishes in the Alpine events as he led a 1-3-4 Norwegian super-G finish.

Aamodt's time of 1 minute, 13.04 seconds beat Marc Girardelli of Luxembourg, who ended his Olympic jinx by taking the silver in 1:13.77. A four-time World Cup overall winner, Girardelli fell in both the downhill, and the downhill half of the combined last week.

Norwegians rule 1,500

ALBERTVILLE, France _ Johann Olav Koss, a three-event world record holder who was hospitalized a week ago for pancreatitis, edged Norwegian teammate Ande Sondral to take the gold in the 1,500-meter event.

America's Eric Flaim, the surprise silver medalist four years ago, became ill Saturday night with food poisoning and finished in 24th place in 1:59.60 _ nearly five seconds behind Koss and almost seven seconds off his 1988 time of 1:52.12 in Calgary.

Gold for German veteran

LES SAISIES, France _ Veteran Fritz Fischer, who won a silver and bronze in earlier Olympics, captured gold at last as he helped Germany win the men's 4x7.5-kilometer biathlon relay.

The 35-year-old father of three _ the oldest man on the team and appearing in his fourth Olympics _ played a key role as Germany became the only team other than the Soviet Union to win the event since it was introduced in 1968.

"It is the best day in my life," Fischer said.

Tough road for Duchesnays

ALBERTVILLE, France _ French stars Isabelle and Paul Duchesnay finished second in the original dance behind Russians Marina Klimova and Sergei Ponomarenko and moved into second place overall heading into tonight's free dance.

But they must beat Klimova and Ponomarenko, the 1989 and '90 world champions, by two places in the free dance to win the Olympic crown, a feat the defending world champs never have managed.